Lemon Meringue Cupcakes: Pie baker or cupcake maker, where do you fit in?

So, did the title of the blog get you riled up? No worries, I’ve no intention of starting a turf war nor am I trying to stick labels on anyone. I was just pondering the other day where I fall in the baking scheme of things, and thought it was an interesting topic.

As a baker, I definitely fall more into the cake category than the pie category. I love to eat pie and I’m pretty happy with my pie making skills, it just isn’t something that floats my boat the same way that making cake or cookies does. Maybe it’s a bit like fashion. I can admire and even desire to own a stunning pair of stiletto heels, but I just don’t want to wear them any more. Too much trouble on the tootsies.

As a pie maker, I would tend to want perfect crimps and decorative borders. I’d want cutouts and colored sugars and more, more, more filling. Our pie making tools are getting fancier and more sophisticated all the time and that is definitely a boon to my pantry, but my heart as a baker lies elsewhere.

Still and all, when I itch to get in the kitchen, it is usually buttercream that is calling my name, or ganache whispering sweet nothings in my ear. Is that bad? Is it wrong? Not to me it isn’t. Taking time to get comfortable in your own baker’s skin is important. But it does sometimes leave me in a conundrum…

how do you cope with wanting pie flavor but not wanting to make pie? The answer is you make pie flavored cupcakes! Take the very best part of lemon meringue pie ie:the filling and the topping and combine those with a flavorful cupcake and you’ve got a hit.

Let’s make Lemon Meringue Cupcakes.

The batch of cupcakes makes 12, so whip them up according to the recipe and allow them to cool completely.

I sacrificed one cupcake so that you could see the very tender and fine crumb inside. The smell of these cupcakes is wonderful, especially if you get to use the Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor. Why the Buttery Flavor instead of the Princess Cake and Cookie?  I think for this particular recipe, it gives a flavor that reminds me slightly of pie dough and bread dough. I love the Princess too, but it has a touch of lemon that I didn’t want to use with the lemon filling. If you have the Buttery Flavor in the cupboard, give it a try and see what you think.

Whip up a batch of Easy Microwave Lemon Curd and allow it to cool and thicken. If you haven’t made the curd before, check out PJ’s easy-peasy blog, that’s exactly what I did.

To core the cupcakes, you can use a cupcake corer, an apple corer, or even a large pastry tip. Be careful not cut through the bottom of the cupcake.

With a small spoon, fill each cupcake to the brim with the curd. These cupcakes are nice and level so you shouldn’t get any spill over.

Umm, yeah. “Shouldn’t” is a loose term, right?

Set the cupcakes aside to firm up while you prepare the meringue. You can absolutely make meringue from scratch, but I really love the convenience of prepared meringue powder.

To make a large batch of meringue, dissolve 3/4 cup of granulated sugar in 1/2 cup of boiling water. Cool until it is room temperature.

Add 1/4 cup of meringue powder, stirring until dissolved.

Gradually increase the speed of the mixer, whipping on high speed for about 2 to 3 minutes or until the meringue is fluffy and cloud-like. When you dip the point of your finger in (Shut the machine off first!!) and pull it out, you should have a nice pointed stiff peak.

I happen to like the mild flavor of the powdered mix, but at this stage you could add a touch more vanilla if desired.

Just not into ready-made meringue? Here’s how to do it from scratch:

3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons granulated sugar

In a large bowl, mix egg whites, cream of tartar and salt. Beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar, continuing to beat until stiff peaks form. This is not a cooked sugar meringue, so be sure to use pasteurized eggs, or liquid egg whites sold in cartons.

This meringue pipes beautifully. I wanted to play with the idea of showing off the filling, so I piped around the edge of the cupcake. Can you see the difference in color for this filling? I didn’t add any yellow food coloring, so this is how the curd looks “au naturale”. You can use a plain tip, or a star tip to get more whirls and swirls.

For those of you who love the meringue more than the filling, you can pipe on plenty…

that’s right, plenty! How tempting would it be to just pick  up one of these and give it a big kiss, right in the middle? You’d be sticky but happy as can be.

To brown the meringue, you can use a handheld cook’s torch, a blowtorch (favorite tool in professional kitchens) or your broiler. If you are broiling, keep the door open a crack so that you can monitor the cupcakes closely.

Ta-da! A whole tray full of decadent desserts in a flash.

Like flowing sand dunes in the sweetest desert on Earth.

Browning the meringue under the broiler will heat the whole cupcake more than using a torch will. Eating the cupcake with warm curd is fine. When you cut into the cake, you get a gorgeous flow of lemon lava, ready to be scooped up with a bit of crisp and fluffy meringue. I honestly couldn’t decide if I liked them better warm, or after cooling. Guess it’s time to make another batch and test taste some more!

Now is your chance to weigh in on our title. Where do you feel you fit in to the baking world? Are you a Cupcake Katie or King of the Yeasts? Pie all the time, or is crust a crime? We want to hear from you. (just remember, play nice and be polite).

Please bake, rate and review our recipe for Lemon Meringue Cupcakes.

Print just the recipe.

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour’s baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. Sue

    I make a lemon filled cupcake ..the filling is baked right in it. I love the idea of topping them with meringue! Oh I almost forgot…I am totally a cake/cookie baker first then bread and lastly pie. I just live to bake. This heat wave has really thrown me off..my “to try” list is getting really really long!
    I know what you mean about the heat. I haven’t had the gumption to bake much. I did make our Chocolate Icebox pie though, and it was fantastic! ~ MaryJane

    1. CJ

      Want to share the lemon filled baked right in recipe .. You would be able to bake the meringue as well then ….?

  2. meedee

    These cakes are beautiful. I too when asked to make something, I make a cake or cookies or quickbread. I don’t really like the mess of pie crust.I really like these blogs, keep up the good work !
    My poor hubby loves pie, but it just doesn’t send me, so the dear man must settle for cake more often. Glad you are lovin’ the blogs. ~ MaryJane

  3. Bridgid

    I never met a dessert I didn’t like to make. So I don’t what that makes me, but if it has sugar I am there. I love to decorate, I love to create, from ice cream to cookies to cake to pie to meringue to candy to pudding to ….
    Hmmm, my mother never mentioned that I had a long lost twin sister… did yours? 🙂 ~ MaryJane

  4. "Mia H"

    Truthfully, I’m much more of a cook/chef than a baker. I LOVE baked goods, but they never seem to turn out as well stuff I make on my range. Still, I love both cakes and pies (especially fruit pies. Oh, and chocolate cakes. And…)
    Well, just remember that we have to have dinner before dessert, so it’s wonderful to have good cooks among your good friends. 🙂 ~ MaryJane

  5. Rockycat

    I think I see a Key Lime variation of this recipe about to happen. In a perfect world, I’d leave the office right now and get them started. Oh wait. In a perfect world I wouldn’t be doing this at the office at all. Oh, well.
    I can’t bake a decent pie to save my life. You want a croquembouche? No problem. A multi-layer cake with Italian buttercream? Easy. Oven-fresh Jewish rye bread? Coming up. A simple pie? I’ll have a go, but no one’s going to like the results. I simply do not have the pie-making gene.
    LOVE the idea of key lime meringue cupcakes, and leaving work to make them. OH, wait, at work I’m supposed to be baking cupcakes! You’ll have to hook up with PJ, she says she lacks the pie making gene too. ~ MaryJane

  6. JuliaJ

    Which brand of liquid egg whites are good for whipping? The brands in the grocery stores in my area say on the carton that they won’t whip. Do powdered egg whites whip OK? (They’re pasteurized.) Thanks.
    I don’t remember the brand, but I know the carton I’ve used before is a pale blue color. I’ll take a look next time I’m in the store and see if I can find it. Powdered whites, such as Just Whites work beautifully. ~ MaryJane

  7. ebenezer94

    I like pie, but it’s not something I make much. First off, I cannot make pie crust to save my life. I’m with Rockycat. I can make any number of complicated cakes, breads, etc, but the pie crust gene is not in me. Usually I use Trader Joe’s frozen crusts (they are really quite tasty), but they have sugar. I made a quiche this weekend and was forced to make crust. I used a King Arthur recipe and actual white flour (I’m usually a whole wheat girl), but it still came out terrible. (Though the crab quiche filling was yummy.) Cupcakes, those I can make no problem. Love lemon meringue, so I’ll have to try these.

    Glad this blog proves some inspiration after your pie crust experience. FYI, MaryJane will be doing a pie blog shortly, so please check back for that. Frank @ KAF.

    1. christine

      I was just like you..my mom and relatives could make the best pie crust..Until I found this one! my mom even switched to this recipe. Trust me..If I can make this one ANYONE can make it.

      2 ½ cups flour
      1 cup Crisco
      ¼ tsp salt
      1 egg
      1 TBSP distilled white vinegar
      ¼ cup cold water

      Place all ingredients, except water in large bowl..With pastry cutter, cut all ingredients together until thoroughly mixed…Add water as needed. As dough starts to form, mold it into a ball with your hands and divide evenly….(Makes 2 pie crusts.) Can be wrapped tightly in saran wrap and kept in refrigerator for a couple of days until ready to use. On wax paper, lightly floured, roll out ½ of dough to size desired and place in pie tin, making small cuts in the bottom for the steam to escape while cooking…Cook in 350 oven until golden brown.

  8. Mary.B

    Great blog! I think pie is fine, but I can’t consistently bake a good crust. My mom’s were awesome. When mine do come out well, I’m never sure what I did differently than when they come out poorly!
    I love to bake cookies and yeast breads, they are my hands down favorite. Cakes are also fun, but since they serve so many and my family is small, I only bake them on special occasions.
    These cupcakes look lovely. Earlier today I saw a recipe for a lemon meringue milkshake – yummy!
    I’m on a coffee milkshake kick this summer, with the occasional peppermint stick shake for variety, but I could sacrifice myself and try lemon meringue. You know, for the good of the team…~ MaryJane

  9. eleyana

    Those look SO fabulous, and I love using the piping tip as a corer – no need to go buy something else to fill up my drawers! You wouldn’t happen to have a conventional lemon curd recipe you like? We don’t have a microwave. 🙂

    You may make the microwave version stove top. Step 3 will need to take place using a double boiler. Give it a try. Frank @ KAF.

  10. mikest

    Okay, here’s where things get complicated… I love to bake, doesn’t really matter what. However… I guess in order of precedence it would be: layer cakes, cookies, cream pies (notice this half of the family got an early entry), cheesecakes, pastries, breads, sheet cakes, cupcakes, fruit pies (the red headed step child). Now, the order of eating would be COMPLETELY different! 🙂

    Yep, the heat has been screwing up EVERYTHING! That said, yesterday we hit double digits (that’s an odd thing to say) so we (my mom and I) made a St. Louis style cheesecake (aka French style). Yummmm… I’m not one for baked meringue (unless it’s in cookie form, dried through), so I’m thinking, a flaky pastry crust, an ultra thin layer of melted dark chocolate (to keep the next layer from sogging up crust), a thin layer (1/2″ – 3/4″) of lemon curd filling, topped with a nice light cheesecake filling… Who says the cheesecake topping needs to go on the top. Hmmm, I guess I have my next experimental dessert to try…

    Now I ask you, is this a cheesecake? A cheese pie? A lemon pie? Just where does this Frankenpie fit in???
    Mike, I don’t know what you’d call it, or what category it fits into, all I know is that I really, really want a piece! I adore lemon and white chocolate, so I think I’m make that layer with white, but dark does sound good too. Let us know how it comes out, please. ~ MaryJane

  11. sohn

    These are so pretty. I was just trying to come up with some birthday cupcakes for my daughter’s class…Do you have any suggestions for a wheat-free, egg-free kind of birthday cake for my son (they are twins)?
    You might start a new tradition with birthday shortcakes – Use the fresh fruit of the season and cut out the shortcakes in great shapes like stars for a birthday celebration. Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

    Fresh fruit kabobs on sparkly skewers would be fun as well, or you can cut big stars of watermelon and stick them on chopsticks for “lollipops”. ~ MJ

  12. Jen

    Thank you posting this. I’ve had to be off chocolate and have been looking for something nice to satisfy my sweet tooth. And with Lemon I won’t have to share with my kids….
    That’s what happens when I make something cherry at our house, the kiddo won’t touch it. 🙂 ~ MaryJane

  13. emb11359

    I don’t like to make pies OR cupcakes. I love to make coffee cakes and cookies.

    Thanks for sharing your preferences for baking. If the occasion arises where you need cupcakes or pie, we hope you’ll consult the blog for inspiration – Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

  14. lindadv

    Definitely more on the yeast side of baking but I do like to bake other yummy things. I like small recipes for desserts because for just the two of us, a family size batch is too much. Twelve cupcakes looks just right.

    I love to eat pie but the crust making has escaped me. My mom was a great crust maker and I liked to make the filling and she didn’t so we made a great duo. I usually buy frozen crusts and use crumb toppings instead of top crusts.

    Kudos to you for knowing how to produce a great pie for your family – happy baking! Irene @ KAF

  15. Mercedes

    I definitely love lemon pie, cause it a tangy flavour, not overly sweet, but still a nice treat, I usually make it using a pie tart instead of the sponge cake, but this is a great idea. What is still missing in my kitchen (my birthday is coming soon 😉 is a torch!!! uhm, the broiler will be my alternative… but I am still thinking about the torch… uhm…


    Did we mention that a torch is great for spur of the moment s’mores? No need for a campfire, just toast your marshmallows on a fondue fork! ~ MaryJane

  16. "Shirley from MA"

    Nobody’s speaking up for pie! I love to bake cakes and pies first, yeast breads second, and cookies last. It’s a close call between cake and pie, but I think pie would win out. I love the challenge of pie — whether it’s a lattice top, a beautifully crimped border, a flaky crust, or artfully arranged fruit or cream. Even lazy pie days offer the simpler options of a cobbler or crumble, a crostata or galette. And summer fruit makes heavenly pies. That said, it’s much faster and easier to bake a cake, and I just love frosting. Nothing like a chocolate layer cake!

    That’s some strong testimony for the “challenge of pie”! Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

  17. biobaker

    I, too, am astonished that everyone says they have trouble with pie crust. I’m fundamentally a yeasty girl, I think, but pie is a strong second. My mother probably guided me through my first pie crust around age 5 and I’ve been making them at the drop of a hat (or, more often, the cry of a friend) ever since. Pie crust is easily the most reliable thing in my repertoire — much more reliable than cakes or biscuits or brownies or even my beloved yeast breads, and maybe even than cookies, too. Of course, I don’t really enjoy eating pie crust — oh, the irony! — but I utterly adore pie fillings. Crisps and cobblers and custards (and simple bowls of fruit) to the rescue!

  18. Mkanders1

    I’m going to make these lemon cupcakes for a co-worker’s retirement party on Monday. Hope the meringue can stand the heat when transporting them!

    I’ve been a bread fan since I attended KAF bread school last summer. And cookies have climbed the preference ladder since I got a convection oven that can bake multiple sheets at a time. But pie has always alluded me – just can’t get the crust right. Maybe I need to come to KAF pie school!

    Here in the midwest, we aren’t getting much fresh fruit this summer. Between the late freeze, infernal temperatures and a critical draught, we’re lucky to see a berry or a peach. When I do have enough for a dessert, we keep it simple with a cobbler or crisp, or just plain on homemade (KAF recipe) ice cream!

  19. aoifeofcheminnoir

    Shared this with a friend who twisted things around. She made a round cake, cut into two layers and filled between the layers with her “signature” lemon filling and topped with the meringue done in artful peaks. Her boss thinks she’s a whopping genius! I saw a picture…and she did give KAF credit for the idea! She’s going to give your lemon curd recipe a try this weekend.

  20. sleefunk

    Pie girl here! Don’t eat much of it myself but nearly any kind of pie is my husband’s favorite. For those with crust issues, try an oil pastry. I won 1st place in a local pie bake-off using oil pastry though some judges thought I had used actual lard! Rolled between 2 pieces of wax paper or parchment, ANY kind of crust will be easier to handle. Peel off the top piece of paper and place the dough in the pie plate, then peel off the other sheet. YOU CAN DO IT!

  21. Lora from Toronto, ON

    How long will these cupcakes stay fresh? I’d like to make them for a weekend getaway so we wouldn’t eat them until day 2 or 3 after making them and I’m worried the meringue will weep.

    Your intuition is correct. With travel time, meringue is not the correct topping for your event. i suggest Italian Buttercream. Frank @ KAF.

  22. Steph

    I tend to make more pie, and lots of muffins, but not so many cupcakes; We don’t really like frosting much! But I did make these and they were very tasty. I do wish the cupcake was a bit more tender, so at think I would cream the butter and sugar together first. But they had plenty of structure to hold the lemon curd, and they were a hit. For those who struggle with pie crust, I use a mix of butter and shortening, which I find handles easier and has good flavor and flake.

  23. bettybrzoska

    I don’t think I’d be suprising anyone when I say…I’m a tart. I have been on a quest for a really good go-to never fail cupcake recipe. By the time I master one they’ll have gone out of favor and I’ll be passe once more. Ah well, everything old is new again eventually.
    Heee heee heee, you are so funny, you made me lol. 😉 ~ MaryJane

  24. Lauri Marie

    I’m not sure where I fit in, I like to make all different things. Meringue is a favorite to make, but I’m not so great at pie crusts. My mom makes a great crust, so between the two of us, we make a decent pie. With these cupcakes, I could still use meringue, but not have to make a crust…perfect!

  25. Jessy

    Hi Ya,

    Just seen your post, beautiful cakes… Im making some tomorrow for work… Ive just baked the cakes waiting for them to cool, before adding the curd….

    Im worried about doing the Meringue, and giving people food poisoning at work, what the best way of doing it?

    The recipe states that you should use “pasteurized” egg white. You can buy these in the egg section of your grocery store. They usually come in a pint or quart container. 4 egg whites is equal to about 1/2 liquid cup measure. This recipe calls for 3 whites so you will need 1/4 +1/8 cup or 6 tablespoons of egg whites. Betsy@KAF

    Im so confused on how much i should cook it etc … any help will be fab x

  26. dugankate@comcast.net

    I need 24 of these babies….can I just double the recipe? thanks for your response!

    Generally doubling a recipe like this is just fine. Just be careful if you need to make 100 or so!-Jon

  27. JoAnn Miller

    These were awesome. I have a gas oven and I should have kept a closer eye on the cupcakes while cooking as they got a little over done, so then when I broiled them with the meringue they were still good, but slightly dry. Next time I will go on the low end of the cooking time and then go from there. BUT they were so delish and easy to make. I can’t wait to try more of the recipes and go back to the store and shop shop shop. 🙂

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You might make the cakes and the curd ahead, but you would want to assemble and make the meringue on the day you serve these. ~Jaydl@KAF

  28. Ewa

    Looks awesome!!! I have a question. You don’t heat white eggs with sugar. You bake whole cupcake – can You tell the timing and temperature? Can I make this cupcakes with swiss meringue and use burner to make them little brown? Best Wishes!!! http://www.facebook.com/JulaSmakula

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I would suggest to call our Baker’s Hotline for an answer to your question. Our number is 855 371 2253. Jon@KAF

  29. Sarah

    I am going to try these cupcakes.
    I love anything that’s cooked.. barbecue, cakes, roasts, cookies, and even pies. Absolutely anything. What category does that put me in? Complicated? Idiotic? lol i don’t know, but I love it and will never give up. It’s a passion I feel even when I’m in bed, dreaming of making mini cakes or serving up a perfect steak (even my dreams are cooks and bakers!)
    thanks for a lovely recipe.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Wow, you are a real die-hard foodie if you are dreaming about cooks and bakers! Wonderful! Elisabeth@KAF

  30. Joan Nehlig

    Pie crust is easy nowadays, is this a word? Anyway the refrigerated Pillsbury pie crust is awesome. Never have a problem with it and it tastes homemade (not like the frozen kind). Try it if you can’t make a decent pie crust you will be glad you did.

  31. Penny

    I really need to do this one. Lemon Meringue Pie is one of my favorites to bake even though it’s very bowl intensive – lots to clean up. I love to paint a coating of melted dark chocolate on the inside of the pie crust while it’s still warm. Tasty and also keeps the shell from getting wet. Can’t wait to try these cupcakes. I also can’t decide which I love to bake more. I do bake cakes more often so I guess it might be cakes. It’s a close call for me though, I love doing both.

  32. Huzzah!

    I like baking cake. I’ve seen this combination of cake and lemon pie before, and I was wondering if you could try that too.

  33. Nancy D

    PJ- I just saw this post, don’t know I missed it before. I was looking for a dessert to make for Easter and started on pinterest where I saw a cake blogger blog about a Lemon Meringue Cake. It is pretty similar to this. My cake turned out pretty well but I used the bloggers lemon cake recipe, King Arthur’s recipe for meringue, and my box of cornstarch’s recipe for the lemon after trying the microwave lemon curd which was an epic fail for me. Love KAF, love your blog and love your recipes. I agree with you, I am more of a cake person than pie but love these flavors together.

  34. Julie

    Baking is therapeutic for me, and pies are my favorite. I will always be so thankful to have learned from my grandma how to make a pie crust. I was 9 years old! I have given lessons to friends who seem to struggle. I guess I got the pie gene! Love KAF products and the website is invaluable for all the information and recipes you provide. I (and my family and friends

  35. Beryl Loveland

    The cakes look beautiful. How long may they be stored please (if they are around long enough!!)

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I would store them on the counter for 3 days. If you put them in the frig, the meringue will get weepy and the cake will get dry, but I doubt there will be any leftover to store! Happy Baking and Eating!JoAnn@KAF

  36. Emily

    How long can I store these cupcakes? I want to make these for my dad for father’s day but I’ll need to make them a day or two early. Thanks!!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If at all possible, make the cupcakes the day before and store wrapped at room temperature. Also, on the same day make the lemon curd and store in the frig overnight. The next day, fill with the curd and top with fresh meringue. Now, they are ready for Dad! Baking the cupcakes several days in advance and freezing is also an option. Allow to deforest at room temperature. I hope you are able to make this work, Emily! Elisabeth@KAF

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